A number of stayers will have their last opportunity to earn a place in the 2013 Melbourne Cup field when they contest the Group 3 Lexus Stakes (2500m) at Flemington on Saturday.
The Lexus Stakes offers the winner ballot-exempt entry into the Melbourne Cup and 25 stayers, most of whom were included in the 2013 Melbourne Cup second acceptances, are a chance to chase the final field position on Saturday.
Lloyd Williams-owned Sea Moon and Pat Carey-trained Ethiopia have been included in the Lexus Stakes nominations despite the fact that both are already assured of a start in the Melbourne Cup.
The Macedon Lodge team is still deliberating over whether to give Sea Moon a final lead-up run before the Melbourne Cup but Nick Williams said last week that the Lexus Stakes was an ideal race for the highly-rated imported stayer.
“He will go to the Lexus on Derby Day; we were thinking about running him in the Mackinnon but he gets into the Lexus really well and he is a mile and a half horse,” Williams said.
“The race is a 60kg maximum and he will go in there and have every chance.”
Ethiopia started his 2013 Spring Racing Carnival campaign strongly with a fifth place finish in the Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) but failed to fire in the Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) and Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m).
Trainer Pat Carey reported that the 2012 Australian Derby winner suffered some muscle soreness after the Caulfield Cup but confirmed that the five-year-old would press on to the Lexus Stakes and take his position in the 2013 Melbourne Cup field.
Chris Waller-trained Kelinni won the 2012 edition of the Lexus Stakes and went on to finish fourth behind Green Moon in the Melbourne Cup but is currently not guaranteed to be given the chance to have another tilt at ‘the race that stops a nation’.
Kelinni is currently 25th in the 2013 Melbourne Cup order of entry and could still earn a run without winning the Lexus Stakes; if stablemate Moriarty and Western Australian galloper Mr Moet are not included in the final acceptances.
Drake International Cup winner Precedence, who received a 1kg weight penalty this morning, and the Peter Moody-trained duo of Ibicenco and My Quest For Peace are also right on the cusp of the 2013 Melbourne Cup field and will likely need to win the Lexus Stakes to earn a start, while European-trained stayers Forgotten Voice and Ruscello will both have their last opportunity to force their way into the field on Saturday.
Mark Kavanagh-trained Shocking was the last horse to complete the Lexus Stakes/Melbourne Cup double when he carried just 51kg to victory in 2009.